TABLE OF CONTENTS
A. GS1 Related B. GS2 Related POLITY 1. Malayalam novel Meesha 2. SC to give verdict on Section 377 today 3. SC refuses to give NRC report copy to Centre GOVERNANCE 1. CCI widens probe into ‘unfair pricing’ by Delhi pvt. hospitals SOCIAL ISSUES 1. SC bats for minor rape survivors INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS 1. 2+2 to take full view of ties C. GS3 Related ECONOMY 1. U.S.-India Trade issues 2. SEBI to review FPI diktat after panel submissions ECOLOGY AND ENVIRONMENT 1. SC relief for Maharashtra and Uttarakhand in construction sector D. GS4 Related E. Editorials SOCIAL ISSUES 1. What’s in a name? – The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting’s advisory to use ‘Scheduled Caste’ instead of ‘Dalit’ INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS 1. CAATSA, a sticking point – on Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act ECONOMY 1. Steps to stop the rot: on dangers of storing foodgrains in the open 2. Argentina economic turmoil F. Tidbits G. Prelims Fact H. UPSC Prelims Practice Questions I. UPSC Mains Practice Questions
A. GS1 Related
Nothing here for today!!!
B. GS2 Related
The Supreme Court on Wednesday threw out a petition seeking a ban on the Malayalam novel Meesha (Moustache), written by S. Hareesh, as it was perceived to be ‘derogatory’ to temple-going Hindu women.
The court said the creativity and imagination of an author cannot be held hostage to the vagaries of subjective perceptions, whims or fancies of individuals.
‘Committed to liberty’
The court said it would safeguard the free flow of ideas in a democracy by quoting Voltaire’s “I may disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.”
The court said the judiciary should remain committed to keeping the flag of liberty flying high. “We live not in a totalitarian regime but in a democratic nation, which permits free exchange of ideas and liberty,” Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra, who authored the judgment, observed.
The judgment said, “A writer should have free play with words, like a painter has it with colours. The passion of imagination cannot be directed.”
It is for the reader to read a creative work with a mature spirit, catholicity of approach, objective tolerance and a sense of acceptability founded on reality, it said.
The Chief Justice, along with Justices A.M. Khanwilkar and D.Y. Chandrachud, wrote that creative voices cannot be allowed to slip into “intellectual cowardice.”
The petitioner, N. Radhakrishnan, calling himself a “proud Hindu”, alleged that the book contained “offending parts”, which insult Brahmin priests and amounts to a “casteist/racist slur”.
He contended that dialogues between certain characters in the book demeaned womanhood and treated women as “sex objects”.
The petitioner said continued publication of the book would trigger violence and create a Charlie Hebdo kind of situation.
He wanted a gag on publications which threatened gender balance and pluralism, and sought either the Supreme Court or the Information and Broadcasting Ministry to frame guidelines against such “such insensitive, incriminating and defamatory articles”.
Chief Justice Misra said, “One may have a grave dislike towards a particular manner of expression but that would not warrant issue of a mandamus from the court to ban the book or the publication.”
The court held that the language used in the dialogue cannot remotely be thought of as obscene. The concept of defamation does not arise. Nurturing the idea that it is derogatory and hurtful to the temple-going is baseless.
About Section 377
- Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code dating back to 1861, introduced during the British rule of India (modelled on the Buggery Act of 1533) criminalized sexual activities “against the order of nature”, including homosexual.
- The section was read down with respect to sex between consenting adults by the Delhi High Court in July 2009.
- That judgement was overturned by the Supreme Court of India (SC) on 11 December 2013 with the Court holding that amending or repealing section 377 should be a matter left to Parliament, not the judiciary.
- On 6 February 2016, the final hearing of the curative petition submitted by the Naz Foundation and others came for hearing in the SC. The three-member bench headed by the then Chief Justice of India S. Thakur said that all the 8 curative petitions submitted will be reviewed afresh by a five-member constitutional bench.
- On 24 August 2017 in a landmark judgment (also known as the Puttuswamy judgement), the SC had upheld the Right to Privacy as a fundamental right under the Constitution.
- The SC also had called for equality and condemned discrimination, stated that the protection of sexual orientation lies at the core of the fundamental rights and that the rights of the LGBT population are real and founded on constitutional doctrine.
- The Puttuswamy judgement is believed to have implications for section 377 as consensual sexual acts in private can no longer be overseen by law.
- In January 2018, a three-member SC bench heard a petition filed by five people asking the SC to revisit the Naz Foundation judgment. The case was referred to a larger bench and help was sought from the Union government.
- On 10 July 2018, a five-member constitutional bench of the SC commenced hearing of the pleas challenging the constitutionality of section 377.
- There will be two opinions for the Constitution Bench. They will be authored by Chief Justice Misra and Justice Chandrachud.
- The Constitution Bench hearing in the Section 377 case began on July 10 with Justice Chandrachud orally observing that a person’s choice of a partner is a fundamental right to life, and a ‘partner’ includes same-sex partner.
- The judgment will be on a batch of petitions, including the lead one filed by hotelier Keshav Suri, arguing that the right to sexual orientation is meaningless without the right to choose a partner.
- The Constitution Bench judgment will decide whether the December 2013 verdict of the Supreme Court in the Suresh Koushal case, which had upheld Section 377 and dismissed the LGBT community as a negligible part of the population denying them the right of choice and sexual orientation, will prevail or not.
- The National Register of Citizens (NRC) is a register containing names of all genuine Indian citizens RESIDING IN ASSAM. The register was first prepared after the 1951 Census of India.
- The NRC is now being updated in Assam to include the names of those persons (or their descendants) who appear in the NRC, 1951, or in any of the Electoral Rolls up to the midnight of 24 March 1971 or in any one of the other admissible documents issued up to midnight of 24 March 1971, which would prove their presence in Assam or in any part of India on or before 24 March 1971.
- The update process of NRC started in the year 2013 under the strict monitoring of Supreme Court of India. On the midnight of 31 December 2017, Part Draft NRC was released and subsequently on 30 July 2018, the Complete Draft NRC was released.
- The Supreme Court refused to provide a copy of the full report of Assam NRC Co-ordinator Prateek Hajela to the Centre on what excluded citizens could offer as proof of ancestry.
- Hajela in his report suggested that those left out of the draft NRC could submit any one of the 10, of a total of 15 documents in List-A of the Centre’s draft Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) for claims and objections.
- He said claimants could submit any of the 10 documents, provided they were authenticated by the relevant authority which issued them.
Two weeks for response
- The Bench gave the government two weeks to respond to Mr. Hajela’s suggestion.
- The court deferred the process of receipt of claims and objections, and posted the next hearing for September 19.
- In the previous hearing on August 28, the apex court had noted how the ouster of 40 lakh people in the draft NRC raised “human problems of a huge magnitude.”
About Competition Act 2002
- The Competition Act, 2002 was enacted by the Parliament of India and governs Indian competition law. It replaced the archaic The Monopolies and Restrictive Trade Practices Act, 1969.
- Under this legislation, the Competition Commission of India was established to prevent the activities that have an adverse effect on competition in India.
- This act extends to whole of India except the State of Jammu and Kashmir.
- It is a tool to implement and enforce competition policy and to prevent and punish anti-competitive business practices by firms and unnecessary Government interference in the market. Competition laws is equally applicable on written as well as oral agreement, arrangements between the enterprises or persons.
- The Competition Act, 2002 was amended by the Competition (Amendment) Act, 2007 and again by the Competition (Amendment) Act, 2009.
- This is an act to establish a commission, protect the interest of the consumers and ensure freedom of trade in markets in India-
- To prohibit the agreements or practices that restricts free trading and also the competition between two business entities,
- To ban the abusive situation of the market monopoly,
- To provide the opportunity to the entrepreneur for the competition in the market,
- To have the international support and enforcement network across the world,
- To prevent from anti-competition practices and to promote a fair and healthy competition in the market.
- The Competition Commission of India has decided to widen the scope of investigation into a matter related to alleged unfair pricing by super-speciality hospitals in and around Delhi.
- The commission had directed its investigative arm, the Director General, to probe into alleged violation of provisions of Section 3 and 4 of the Competition Act, 2002, relating to imposition of unfair prices by private super-speciality hospitals.
- On examining the report submitted by the DG, the commission found prima facie contravention of the provisions of the Act, noted a release .“Huge profit margins are being earned by sale of products to the locked-in in-patients to the detriment of such patients,” it noted.
- “Considering the mandate given to the commission to eliminate the practices having adverse effect on competition and to protect the interest of consumers, the commission decided to widen the scope of investigation to cover the practices of super speciality hospitals across Delhi in respect of healthcare products and services provided to their in-patients,” the release stated.
- The commission maintained that the investigation will focus on the products sold by the super-speciality hospitals to their inpatients “which are not required on an urgent basis for any medical procedure/intervention or which do not involve any high degree of quality issue from the medical procedure point of view”.
- The commission has directed the DG to swiftly complete the investigation, it noted.
- The National Legal Services Authority (NALSA) has been constituted under the Legal Services Authorities Act, 1987 to provide free Legal Services to the weaker sections of the society and to organize Lok Adalats for amicable settlement of disputes.
- Justice Dipak Misra, the Chief Justice of India is the Patron-in-Chief and Hon’ble Mr. Justice Ranjan Gogoi, Judge, Supreme Court of India is the Executive Chairman of the Authority.
- In every State, State Legal Services Authority has been constituted to give effect to the policies and directions of the NALSA and to give free legal services to the people and conduct Lok Adalats in the State. The State Legal Services Authority is headed by Hon’ble the Chief Justice of the respective High Court who is the Patron-in-Chief of the State Legal Services Authority.
- In every District, District Legal Services Authority has been constituted to implement Legal Services Programmes in the District. The District Legal Services Authority is situated in the District Courts Complex in every District and chaired by the District Judge of the respective district.
- The Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act (POCSO Act) 2012 was formulated in order to effectively address sexual abuse and sexual exploitation of children.
- The Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012 received the President’s assent on 19th June 2012 and was notified in the Gazette of India on 20th June, 2012.
- The Act defines a child as any person below eighteen years of age. It defines different forms of sexual abuse, including penetrative and non-penetrative assault, as well as sexual harassment and pornography. It deems a sexual assault to be “aggravated” under certain circumstances, such as when the abused child is mentally ill or when the abuse is committed by a person in a position of trust or authority like a family member, police officer, teacher, or doctor.
- The Act also casts the police in the role of child protectors during the investigative process. Thus, the police personnel receiving a report of sexual abuse of a child are given the responsibility of making urgent arrangements for the care and protection of the child, such as obtaining emergency medical treatment for the child and placing the child in a shelter home, and bringing the matter in front of the CWC, should the need arise.
- The Act further makes provisions for avoiding the re-victimisation of the child at the hands of the judicial system. It provides for special courts that conduct the trial in-camera and without revealing the identity of the child, in a manner that is as child-friendly as possible.
- Hence, the child may have a parent or other trusted person present at the time of testifying and can call for assistance from an interpreter, special educator, or other professional while giving evidence. Above all, the Act stipulates that a case of child sexual abuse must be disposed of within one year from the date the offence is reported.
- The Act also provides for mandatory reporting of sexual offences. This casts a legal duty upon a person who has knowledge that a child has been sexually abused to report the offence; if he fails to do so, he may be punished with six months’ imprisonment and/ or a fine.
- The Supreme Court ordered that minor survivors of rape or sexual assault will get compensation on par with women victims.
- The apex court extended to minor children the National Legal Services Authority’s (NALSA) compensation scheme for women rape and sexual assault survivors.
- A three-judge Bench led by Justice Madan B. Lokur directed that Special Judges under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act should disburse compensation to minor victims of sex abuse as per the NALSA’s ‘Compensation Scheme for Women Victims/Survivors of Sexual Assault/Other Crimes-2018’.
- The NALSA scheme would be made applicable to minor victims from October 2 until the Centre frames compensation guidelines under the POCSO.
- The NALSA scheme provides a uniform payment of ₹5 lakh to a maximum ₹ 10 lakh for “loss of life” and to gang rape survivors in any part of the country.
- Similarly, in case of rape and unnatural sexual assault, the victim would get a minimum of ₹4 lakh and a maximum of ₹7 lakh as compensation.
- Among other categories, if a victim suffers the loss of foetus, that is, by miscarriage as a result of assault or loss fertility, the NALSA scheme offers a compensation of ₹2 lakh to ₹3 lakh.
- A victim of acid attacks, in case of disfigurement of face, would get a minimum compensation of ₹7 lakh, while the upper limit would be ₹8 lakh.
- Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Donald Trump have moved to insulate the India-US strategic relationship from feuds over trade by instituting a new level of interaction between the principal actors, the foreign and defence ministers of the two countries.
- In both countries, diplomats hope the mechanism will place the strategic and security relationship between the two countries on centrestage, allowing common challenges — like the crisis spawned by China’s aggression on its peripheries, or challenges to energy security from instability in West Asia — to be addressed irrespective of differences on trade issues.
- The mechanism — called a 2+2 format — was discussed and agreed upon by External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and her counterpart, Rex Tillerson, on Tuesday.
- The 2+2 format draws on a framework Japan used for its strategic interactions with the US, France, Russia and Australia. From 2010, India and Japan began direct interactions between their foreign and defence secretaries; this was raised to the level of the respective ministers in 2014.
- National Security Advisor Ajit Doval is believed to have begun discussing the idea with his counterpart, General H.R. McMaster, soon after President Trump took office, in an effort to give depth to India-US strategic ties.
- 2+2 will provide a powerful new vehicle to discuss issues. But bureaucracies in both countries need to resist being seduced by the idea that process alone can resolve the issues in the relationship.
- India’s defence ties with Russia and energy links with Iran will not be the primary focus of the inaugural India-U.S. “2 plus 2” dialogue, U.S. Secretary of State Michael Pompeo indicated ahead of his arrival here.
- Pompeo and U.S. Secretary of Defence General James Mattis, who arrived here on Wednesday evening for the dialogue with External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, will head their respective teams for the two-level talks.
- The dialogue is the highest-level discussion of the year between the two countries.
- Thursday’s discussion is expected to take a comprehensive look at strategic ties between India and the U.S. On top of the discussion is the likely US plans to have a landmark agreement on communication and coordination on security issues – COMCASA and sale of high tech military items.
- The COMCASA agreement will allow exchange of secure communication between the two militaries and facilitate the sale of high tech encryption systems to India.
- While finer details are still being worked out, some experts have cautioned that signing the deal might expose India’s critical security communication to the United States.
Iran energy supply
- The “2 plus 2” dialogue was planned during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Washington DC last year and issues related to Iran and Russia that are important to the administration of President Donald Trump are expected to be discussed.
- However, sources have indicated that India prefers to avoid third party mentions in bilateral talks.
- The U.S. has been demanding that India “zero out” energy supply from Iran, even as Delhi has avoided spelling out how exactly it would comply with the American demand.
- The other major U.S. concern is the S400 missile defence shield worth $6 billion that India plans to acquire from Russia. U.S. media sources have reported that both the issues would feature prominently in Thursday’s talks.
To meet Modi
- Following the formal talks, both Mr. Pompeo and General Mattis are scheduled to pay a visit to Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday afternoon.
- Before arriving in India, Mr. Pompeo held discussion in Islamabad with the new Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan on regional security and Afghanistan.
- This is likely to find space in talks, especially while addressing India’s concerns on U.S. support to bring proscribed terrorists like Hafiz Saeed of Lashkar-e-Taiba to justice.
C. GS3 Related
The Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) is a U.S. trade program designed to promote economic growth in the developing world by providing preferential duty-free entry for up to 4,800 products from 129 designated beneficiary countries and territories. GSP was instituted on January 1, 1976, by the Trade Act of 1974.
- The Generalized System of Preferences, or GSP, is a preferential tariff system which provides for a formal system of exemption from the more general rules of the World Trade Organization (WTO), (formerly, the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade or GATT).
- Specifically, it is a system of exemptions from the most favored nation principle (MFN) that obliges WTO member countries to treat the imports of all other WTO member countries no worse than they treat the imports of their “most favored” trading partner.
- In essence, MFN requires WTO member countries to treat imports coming from all other WTO member countries equally, that is, by imposing equal tariffs on them.
- GSP exempts WTO member countries from MFN for the purpose of lowering tariffs for the least developed countries, without also lowering tariffs for rich countries.
About Trade Policy Forum
- India-US Trade Policy Forum: India US Trade Policy Forum (TPF) was set up in 2005 and reconstituted in 2014.
- Ministry of Commerce & Industry, GoI and Office of the US Trade Representative are the nodal agencies and TPF is co-Chaired by Commerce and Industry Minister on the Indian side and USTR on the American side.
- This is primarily designed to work for expanding bilateral trade and investment.
- India and the United States are in a deadlock over contentious trade issues after the Donald Trump administration sought a formal commitment of additional purchases of $10 billion annually for the next three years, as part of a trade agreement under negotiation.
- As both countries seek to reiterate their strategic partnership at the first 2+2 dialogue in New Delhi, India is in the cross-hairs of economic nationalists in the Trump administration.
- India has a surplus of $23 billion in trade with America, and the U.S. wants to wipe that off by forcing more imports by New Delhi.
- American interlocutors took Indian officials by surprise last month with a draft agreement that committed additional imports by India, in civilian aircraft and natural gas.
- Trade between countries is determined by competitive advantage and notions of enterprise of private parties. In democracies like India and the U.S., both governments have limited abilities to commit a trade value for future years.
- Officials of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) office also aggregated all market access issues in the negotiations initially planned on the review of India’s Generalised System of Preferences (GSP) status and the steel and aluminium tariffs imposed by the Trump administration.
- The U.S. is proceeding with its review of India’s GSP status and India is moving ahead with retaliatory tariffs. Postponed twice, India’s retaliatory tariffs are now set to come into force on September 18.
- Meanwhile, there is a shadow of uncertainty over the Trade Policy Forum (TPF) that was announced for the last week of October.
- India was expecting to negotiate general market access issues at the TPF, but the USTR wanted all of them resolved beforehand.
- The USTR had launched a review of India’s GSP status, that allows preferential treatment to certain number of specified goods from beneficiary countries.
- The Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) is the regulator for the securities market in India. It was established in the year 1988 and given statutory powers on 30 January 1992 through the SEBI Act, 1992.
Securities and exchange Board of India (SEBI) was first established in the year 1988 AQF as a non-statutory body for regulating the, securities market. It became an autonomous body by The Government of India on 12 May 1992 and given statutory powers in 1992 with SEBI Act 1992 being passed by the Indian Parliament.
What is ‘Foreign Portfolio Investment – FPI’
- Foreign portfolio investment (FPI) consists of securities and other financial assets passively held by foreign investors.
- It does not provide the investor with direct ownership of financial assets and is relatively liquid depending on the volatility of the market.
- Foreign portfolio investment differs from foreign direct investment (FDI), in which a domestic company runs a foreign firm, because although FDI allows a company to maintain better control over the firm held abroad, it may face more difficulty selling the firm at a premium price in the future.
- Foreign portfolio investment is part of a country’s capital account and shown on its balance of payments (BOP).
- The BOP measures the amount of money flowing from one country to other countries over one monetary year. It includes the country’s capital investments, monetary transfers, and the number of exports and imports of goods and services.
Differences Between FPI and FDI
- FPI lets an investor purchase stocks, bonds or other financial assets in a foreign country.
- Because the investor does not actively manage the investments or the companies that issue the investments, he does not have control over the securities or the business.
- However, since the investor’s goal is to create a quick return on his money, FPI is more liquid and less risky than FDI.
- The Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) will soon review its circular issued in April that barred Non-Resident Indians (NRIs), among others, from managing funds they invest in India.
- The circular became contentious with an industry body estimating that it could lead to outflows of $75 billion, though the regulator brushed aside any such concerns.
- On Wednesday, the capital markets regulator said that a working group constituted under H.R. Khan, former RBI deputy governor, met with industry participants and would soon give its recommendations to SEBI, which would then review the entire matter.
- The working group has heard various stakeholders, has held consultations, and is in the process of giving its recommendations. Ministry of Finance, Government of India, has also been consulted on various issues. Based on these inputs, SEBI would review the matter and shortly take a holistic view.
- On April 10, SEBI issued a circular stating that entities like NRIs, Person of Indian Origin (PIO) and Overseas Citizen of India (OCI) cannot be the beneficial owners of any foreign portfolio investor (FPI).
- It further stated that FPIs that did not comply with the framework would be given six months to either change their structure or wind up their positions in India. Last month, SEBI extended the deadline till December 31.
- On Monday, the Asset Managers Roundtable of India (AMRI) said that the SEBI diktat was “opaque” and that it “distrusts” the NRI community. Hence, the regulator should review it.
About Solid Waste Management Policy
- The solid waste policy in India specifies the duties and responsibilities for hygienic waste management for cities and citizens of India.
- This policy was framed in September 2000, based on the March 1999 Report of the Committee for Solid Waste Management in Class 1 cities of India to the Supreme Court, which urged statutory bodies to comply with the report’s suggestions and recommendations. These also serve as a guide on how to comply with the Municipal Solid Waste (MSW) rules.
- Today, India is one of the places in the world where most garbage is disposed. Indian landfills contain dangerous materials, including plastics and chemicals.
- Both the report and the rules, summarised below, are based on the principle that the best way to keep streets clean is not to dirty them in the first place.
- So a city with street bins will ultimately become clean and stay clean. They advocate daily doorstep collection of “wet” (food) wastes for composting, which is the best option for India. The decrease in cost of old bottles has created waste disposal problem in Kerala, India.
- This is not only because composting is a cost-effective process practiced since old times, but also because India’s soils need organic manures to prevent loss of fertility through unbalanced use of chemical fertilizers.
- Scientific disposal of solid waste through segregation, collection and treatment and disposal in an environmentally sound manner minimises the adverse impact on the environment. The local authorities are responsible for the development of infrastructure for collection, storage, segregation, transportation, processing and disposal of MSW.
- The Supreme Court lifted its August 31 order staying construction activities in landslide-hit Uttarakhand for not placing on record in court its solid waste management policy.
- The court also clarified that there is no stay on construction in Maharashtra too. A three-judge Bench led by Justice Madan B. Lokur had ordered a freeze on construction activities in defaulting States and Union Territories.
- It had imposed a fine of ₹3 lakh each on Maharashtra and Uttarakhand, along with Madhya Pradesh and the Union Territory of Chandigarh, for not complying with a July direction of the apex court to place on record their respective policies under the Solid Waste Management Rules, 2016.
- While Maharashtra lawyers blamed a “communication gap,” as the State had already framed a policy in 2017, the Uttarakhand side submitted its policy was awaiting Cabinet approval.
- Uttarakhand said it had been hit by calamity and the fine imposed on them should be channelled for rescue operations in the State. It described how landslides have caused the appearance of an artificial lake in Tehri Garhwal area and around 13 villages were in danger. The court allowed the plea.
- Andhra Pradesh, which was ordered to pay a fine of ₹ five lakh for not even making an appearance in the last hearing on August 31, also pleaded the court for relief along with Odisha and Chandigarh.
- The court asked them to file applications but not before rebuffing them for making an appearance now after being stung by the August 31 order. “The builders must have gone after you after our order,” Justice Lokur told the States.
- The Odisha counsel ascribed the lapse due to some “confusion” on its part during the August 31 hearing. “Everybody is confused when it comes to implementation of law,” Justice Lokur reacted.
- At one point, the Uttarakhand counsel blamed the Centre for not filing a national policy on solid waste management. But Additional Solicitor General A.N.S. Nadkarni referred to the ‘Swachh Bharat Abhiyan’ initiative in answer.
- Towards the end of the hearing, the court questioned Maharashtra about the utilisation of cess collected under the Building and Other Construction Workers (Regulation of Employment and Conditions of Service) Act, 1996. It sought a reply from Maharshtra by September 11 on what steps had been taken to use the funds for the welfare of construction workers in Mumbai.
D. GS4 Related
Nothing here for today!!!
The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting has told the media to “refrain from using the nomenclature Dalit” and, instead, use only the Constitutional term, ‘Scheduled Caste’.
- Dalit rights groups have opposed the I&B ministry’s order, asserting that the term holds political significance and a sense of identity.
- It is opined that the advisory must be withdrawn as there is no reason to tell the media how to do their job, even if it is phrased in the form of voluntary advice.
- The debate over the appropriateness of using the term ‘Dalit’ to refer to members of the Scheduled Castes is far from new.
- A decade ago, the National Commission for Scheduled Castes disfavoured the use of ‘Dalit’, which it felt was unconstitutional.
- This is because belonging to a ‘Scheduled Caste’ is a legal status conferred on members of castes named in a list notified by the President under Article 341 of the Constitution. And arguably must be used in official documents and communications.
Evolution of the term ‘Dalit’:
- The term ‘Dalit’ has evolved over a period of time and has come to symbolise different things in different contexts — self-respect, assertion, solidarity and opposition to caste oppression.
- In the past, Dalits were referred to as ‘untouchables’, but the official term during British rule was ‘depressed classes’.
- Mahatma Gandhi sought to remove the stigma of ‘pollution’ by using the term ‘Harijans’, or ‘children of god’. In course of time, the community rejected this title as patronising and hypocritical.
- It was only some decades ago that they began to refer to themselves as Dalits.
- ‘Dalit’ literally means ‘downtrodden’ or ‘broken’, but it is a word suggestive with meaning, reflecting the struggle of a community to reassert its identity and lay claim to the rights that were denied to them for centuries.
- Though the advisory has been issued in compliance with a direction from the Nagpur Bench of the Bombay High Court. The advisory from the Union Information and Broadcasting Ministry is unnecessary, intrusive and issued with little application of the mind.
- The reading of the court’s order shows it only wanted the Centre “to consider the question of issuing such direction to the media and take a suitable decision upon it”.
- The I&B Ministry’s advisory is confusing as it uses the words “for all official transactions, matters”, though the media’s references to the community are usually beyond official contexts.
- Union Minister of State for Social Justice Ramdas Athawale, who has been associated with the Dalit Panther movement in Maharashtra which popularised the use of the term as a political identity, said the word ‘Dalit’ “denotes a sense of pride”.
Arguably, ‘Scheduled Caste’ is the appropriate way to refer to this class of people in official communications and documents. However, it is strange to oppose the use of the term ‘Dalit’ in the media and in non-official contexts — a nomenclature chosen and used by the community itself. Doing so lends itself to the charge that there is an attempt to deny the powerful and emotive meaning of the word Dalit. ‘Dalit’ must be recognised as an expression of self-empowerment.
With the much delayed 2+2 dialogue to take place in New Delhi on the 6th of September, there are high expectations in terms of likely signing of Communications Compatibility and Security Agreement, addressing the structural issues such as Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA) etc.
What is CAATSA?
- CAATSA is a punitive act signed reluctantly by President Donald Trump in August 2017 and forced his administration to impose sanctions on any country carrying out significant defence and energy trade with sanctioned entities in North Korea, Iran and Russia.
- The Senate and House Armed Services Committee in a joint conference report to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA)-2019 provided a modified waiver to section 231 of CAATSA.
- As pointed out by a media release by the Senate Armed Services Committee, the proposed modified waiver requires presidential certifications designed to protect US alliances, military operations, and sensitive technology.
- This is an act by the Congress, thus the President of the United States of America doesn’t have too much of authority over it. Thus, if the President of the United States wanted to give some waivers to some countries, or to some entities, then the possibilities were very limited.
What does the Presidential waiver state?
The “modified waiver authority”, or amendment to Section 231 of CAATSA proposed by Congress, allows the President to waive sanctions in certain circumstances, for six months at a time, as long as he certifies that it is in the U.S.’s national security interests and does not “endanger” ongoing operations.
India’s three-fold case for the waiver:
- No weapons India bought would be used against the U.S.
- The U.S., which wants to partner with India in the Indo-Pacific, would hamper India’s military abilities by applying the sanctions or denying the country crucial technology.
- India has significantly reduced its dependence on Russian military hardware while increasing defence purchases from the U.S., and it would be unfair if the U.S. rewarded the effort with punitive measures.
- India had made it clear that it would go ahead with the S-400 Triumf missile system deal with Russia even as U.S. sanctions loom large.
- Earlier, when U.S. officials expressed concern over the S-400 sale, they had assured India that a way would be found by the Trump administration to shield friends and allies from sanctions. However, recent statements show a change in tone.
- Randall Schriver, Assistant Secretary of Defence for Asian and Pacific Security Affairs, said in a sharp remark in Washington that he “can’t guarantee a waiver will be used for future purchases.” He said that there was an “impression that we are going to completely protect the India relationship, insulate India from any fallout from this legislation no matter what they do. I would say that is a bit misleading. We would still have very significant concerns if India pursued major new platforms and systems [from Russia].” He also added: “Russia is not a country you want to have a strategic partnership [with].”
- The U.S.’s change in tone and expectations directly impinge on India’s core national interests and interfere in its policymaking.
- Several officials have stressed this point on different occasions.
- While making the decision to purchase the S-400 air defence systems in July, Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman had said, “We have made it clear that CAATSA is a U.S. law and not a UN law.” Asked if the law applied to India, she said, “Of course it does not.”
- There are practical considerations — the Indian military is heavily reliant on Russian equipment in many areas.
- Given the specific requirements of the military, the services will continue to choose Russian equipment, although they are also now diversifying their inventory.
- Several U.S. officials and experts have suggested that India should procure alternatives from the U.S. Speaking at the NATO summit in July.
- While Mr. Trump made a good pitch to export more U.S. weapons, selecting a military platform, especially something as complex as air defence systems, is not an isolated effort; military equipment cannot just be procured ad hoc. India has its own due diligence to follow regarding what suits it best and what it needs the most. The best product may not always be what is needed. The product that gives the best value for money and performs well under Indian conditions is what is procured.
- While the U.S. may expect India to do more for the support rendered by it at various levels, India’s defence cooperation doesn’t fall in that ambit.
- The India-U.S. relationship has moved past the stage of the usual rhetoric of praising “large democracies”. Given that India is a rising power looking for a greater say on the global stage, the U.S. should be sensitive to its core interests.
- The onus is on the U.S. to find a way out on CAATSA if it is really serious about taking forward the strategic partnership.
- Given that the 2+2 format involves talks at the highest levels, it is an opportunity for India and the U.S. to address the issue now and prevent it from escalating further.
Most grain in India that id procured by the Government from the farmers is stored in unscientific CAP, or cover and plinth method. In most of the cases, a cement plinth is built where flour, bread, biscuits, rice and other cereals are put in bags and covered with a tarpaulin to prevent the food from rotting. India stores about 30.52 million tonnes of rice, wheat, maize, gram and sorghum in such structures at Food Corporation of India godowns and hired spaces.
- In other parts of the world, grain is stored in silos (a tall tower or pit on a farm used to store grain). Here, stored grain is kept dry and aired so as to prevent fungal and insect attacks.
- When the North American mid-west came under the plough during the 19th and 20th centuries, the first thing that was done was to build large grain silos and a railway system to export the grain.
- Today, the U.S. has a permanent storage capacity nearly equivalent to its annual grain production.
- But in India, the government has considered only four silos to be sufficient for the nation’s needs — one each in Kolkata, Chennai, Mumbai and Hapur-Ghaziabad.
- The last one, in Uttar Pradesh, is the most modern with a storage capacity of 500 tonnes, according to a recent paper.
- The remainder of government-procured grain is stored in conditions so shoddy that it is estimated that there is a 10% loss of harvested grain, of which 6% (around 1,800,000 tonnes) is lost in storage.
- This means that the grain is so damp and fungus-ridden that it cannot be ground and passed on to the public for consumption.
- In order to export basmati rice, Punjab has, in a public-private partnership, built modern, temperature-controlled grain silos with a storage capacity of 50,000 tonnes — but this is not for the Indian market.
- In India, now, the grain, especially wheat and paddy, is stored outdoors under tarpaulins through the rainy season. After this, grain is converted to flour or flour-based products or de-husked, which we store in airtight containers and bins to prevent mould. However, the damage is already done. The mycotoxins which we seek to prevent by keeping food dry are already present from the time the flour was stored in the form of grain.
- The government is aware of the deadly consequences of grain with mycotoxins. Although there are regulations in place to prevent the purchase of mouldy grain from farmers, there do not seem to be any published studies on the extent of mould infection in grain stored using the CAP method.
Absence of proper storage mechanisms – an invitation to illness:
- Eating mouldy grain causes a variety of illnesses.
- According to a World Health Organisation paper, titled “Mycotoxins”, mycotoxins, which are found in mouldy grain/foods, are associated with human disease and produce aflatoxins (cancer-causing), trichothecenes, ochratoxins, citrinin and other toxins.
- The paper says: “Aflatoxicosis causes abdominal pain, vomiting, hepatitis and (sometimes) death after acute exposure to high concentrations in food. Chronic low dose exposure to aflatoxin can result in impaired growth in children.”
- This is why traditional wisdom ensured that mouldy food was discarded.
- About 30 million tonnes of foodgrain is stored outside under tarpaulins. Given the weather conditions during the monsoon months, it is not acceptable that our foodgrains, which the public pays to procure, are stored in the open under tarpaulins.
- The planners must take into cognizance the serious impact that this ignorance could cause.
- Given that the foodgrain production has been encouraged and increased, efforts must be made to ensure that grain being procured annually is stored properly.
- Considering the fact that there is an abundance of steel, cement and other building materials, money and the technological know-how, the government must make efforts to store food grains in the proper manner.
What is happening with Argentina’s economy?
- Argentina’s currency, the peso, has lost approximately 50% of its value in 2018 and 25% in August alone, falling to new lows as confidence in the currency continued to drop.
- President Mauricio Macri asked the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to accelerate the disbursement of a $50 billion loan, on the premise that the money could be used for servicing debt and intervening in currency markets.
- Marci said that a lack of confidence in the peso and inflation of around 30%(It is the highest amongst G20 nations) had compelled him to do this. The IMF had already disbursed a tranche of $15 billion in June.
- Most of Argentina’s debt is dollar denominated and the growing weakness of the peso against the dollar has been a cause for concern to markets.
- Cristina Fernández de Kirchner government was in power from 2007 until 2015.
- They raised public spending, nationalised companies and heavily subsidised many items of daily life ranging from utilities to football transmissions on television.
- Most importantly it controlled the exchange rate, which created all sorts of practical problems, such as giving rise to a black market for dollars and heavily distorting prices.
What has been the response?
- Argentina’s central bank announced that it was increasing the quantum of reserves bankswould have to hold, and it hiked interest rates to 60%, to rein in inflation and increase investor confidence in its currency (higher interest rates attract more capital).
- The administration announced “emergency” austerity measures, including temporary increases in export taxes on certain raw and processed agricultural goods; soymeal, soya bean and corn represent a large chunk of exports (over 30% in 2016).
- Also in the works are a 27% cut in capital spending and closing down and consolidation of ministries(from 19 to 10).
- The administration has said it will have a balanced budget in 2019 and a budget surplus of 1% by 2020 — significantly more ambitious than the 1.3% budget deficit target set by the IMF as part of the bailout agreement.
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G. Prelims Fact
Nothing here for today!
H. Practice Questions for UPSC Prelims Exam
Question 1. Consider the following statements:
Foreign portfolio investment is part of a country’s capital account and shown on its balance of payments (BOP).
FPI lets an investor purchase stocks, bonds or other financial assets in a foreign country.
Which of the above statements are correct?
- 1 only
- 2 only
- Both 1 and 2
- Neither 1 nor 2
Question 2. Consider the following statements:
Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) is a U.S. trade program designed to promote economic growth in the developing world.
MFN requires WTO member countries to treat imports coming from all other WTO member countries equally by imposing equal tariffs on them.
Which of the above statements are incorrect?
- 1 only
- 2 only
- Both 1 and 2
- Neither 1 nor 2
Question 3. Consider the following statements:
Competition Commission of India was established to prevent the activities that have an adverse effect on competition in India.
Competition Act 2002 is a tool to implement and enforce competition policy and to prevent and punish anti-competitive business practices by firms and unnecessary Government interference in the market.
Which of the above statements are correct?
- 1 only
- 2 only
- Both 1 and 2
- Neither 1 nor 2
Question 4. Consider the following statements:
The National Legal Services Authority (NALSA) has been constituted under the Legal Services Authorities Act, 1987 to provide free Legal Services to the weaker sections of the society and to organize Lok Adalats.
In every District, District Legal Services Authority has been constituted to implement Legal Services Programmes in the District.
Which of the following statement/s is/are correct?
- 1 only
- 2 only
- Both 1 and 2
- None of the above
Question 5. Consider the following statements:
The Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act (POCSO Act) 2001 was formulated in order to effectively address sexual abuse and sexual exploitation of children.
The Act defines a child as any person below eighteen years of age.
Which of the following statement/s is/are correct?
- 1 only
- 2 only
- Both 1 and 2
- None of the above
I. Practice Questions for UPSC Mains Exam
India is a rising power looking for a greater say on the global stage, the U.S. should be sensitive to its core interests. In this context, Discuss the ticking issues between India and U.S.
The term ‘Scheduled Caste’ is the appropriate way to refer to the people in official communications and documents. However, it is strange to oppose the use of the term ‘Dalit’ which is a nomenclature chosen and used by the community itself.
Also, check previous Daily News Analysis
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